Sauerkraut Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 07/03/22 •  11 min read
sauerkraut benefits and side effects

What are sauerkraut benefits and side effects every ethical consumer must know? Here are sauerkraut pros and cons and how buying them will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. 

Food is something we consume every day and if you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on sauerkraut benefits and side effects.

You are going to learn all about sauerkraut benefits and side effects. This will include sauerkraut benefits for your health and potential risks, sauerkraut water footprint and sauerkraut carbon footprint, sauerkraut sustainability, if sauerkraut is vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if sauerkraut is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about sauerkraut benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Must-Know Sauerkraut Benefits And Side Effects

Health

Sauerkraut health benefits may include:

Sauerkraut is…

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Environment

Water footprint: low, it takes 280 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of cabbage / 34 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of cabbage

Carbon footprint: low, 0.12 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of fresh cabbage, a car driving equivalent of 0.25 miles or 0.5 kilometers

Destruction: low, sauerkraut production is relatively sustainable, there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc.

Sauerkraut is…

Animals

Kills: none, sauerkraut production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, sauerkraut production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from sauerkraut production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Sauerkraut is…

Laborers

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Sauerkraut…

In the United States, 78% of the nation’s cabbage comes from California, Wisconsin, New York, Florida, and Texas.

Germany and Poland are some top sauerkraut producing countries.

Yes! Sauerkraut is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, fiber and contains vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium and phosphorus.

sauerkraut is alkaline. sauerkraut benefits include fitting into an alkaline diet.

sauerkraut benefits include fitting into an alkaline diet.

Is sauerkraut alkaline or acidic?

Sauerkraut is alkaline.

What is the pH level of sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut has a 10.0 pH level once digested. Fermented vegetables like kimchi are extremely alkaline.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

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sauerkraut is gluten free. sauerkraut benefits include fitting into a gluten free diet.

sauerkraut benefits include fitting into a gluten free diet.

Is sauerkraut gluten free?

Yes, sauerkraut is gluten free. Sauerkraut does not contain gluten. Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

sauerkraut is not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is sauerkraut a common food allergen?

No, sauerkraut is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to sauerkraut but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

sauerkraut is a fermented food.

fermented foods benefit gut health and good bacteria

Is sauerkraut fermented?

Yes, sauerkraut is a fermented food and excellent for your health.

Fermentation is an old process that can extend shelf life, provide healthy probiotics and add nutritional value. One notable nutrient that can be acquired is vitamin B12 -especially desirable for vegans and vegetarians, as it typically is not in plant foods.

Fermented foods help the body digest food, fight off bad bacteria, make certain vitamins, maintain a healthy balance, and restore gut health after taking antibiotics. 

When too many bad gut microbes exist it can create an imbalance between beneficial and harmful gut bacteria, which leads to health problems. In some cases intestinal walls can weaken and their contents may leak into the bloodstream, commonly referred to as leaky gut syndrome. Fermented foods are known to strengthen intestinal walls. 

For optimal gut health and overall wellbeing fermented foods are a great daily addition to your diet. Common fermented foods include: kefir, tempeh, natto, kombucha, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut and yogurt.

Check out this Fermented Foods List to see them all.

Here’s an amazing cookbook filled with delicious fermented recipes: Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes & Pastes by Christopher Shockey and Kirsten K. Shockey

sauerkraut has a low water footprint. sauerkraut benefits include not requiring too much water.

sauerkraut benefits include not requiring too much water.

Does sauerkraut have a high or low water footprint?

Sauerkraut likely has a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of sauerkraut?

It takes 280 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of cabbage / 34 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of cabbage.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of “water footprints”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

sauerkraut likely has a low carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does sauerkraut have a high or low carbon footprint?

Sauerkraut likely has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of sauerkraut?

It takes around 0.12 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of cabbage, a car driving equivalent of 0.25 miles or 0.5 kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

sauerkraut is sustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is sauerkraut eco friendly? Is sauerkraut sustainable?

Sauerkraut production is relatively sustainable since there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used. Be sure to buy non GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc. when using regenerative practices.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

sauerkraut typically vegan but some restaurants may add pork bits.

vegan pork alternative

Is sauerkraut vegan?

Yes, sauerkraut is vegan. Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, a type of vegetable, and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. However, some restaurants may add the fat contained in cuts of pork, or “speck”, to their sauerkraut especially in traditional German restaurants.

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

sauerkraut is a product that may or may not have labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks.

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

This post was all about sauerkraut benefits and side effects.

Sources:

Sauerkraut – National Center for Home Food Preservation

classic fermented sauerkraut – FoodData

Bulk Sauerkraut Grades and Standards – Agricultural

Adriane Marie

Self-proclaimed Grocery Guru, Material Maven and all around Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful and use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.

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